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Celebrate Santa Barbara’s 231st Birthday with ‘Founding Day’ at El Presidio State Park

Living-history activities will be a focal point of “Founding Day” at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park, a free community event on April 21 celebrating Santa Barbara’s 231st birthday.
Living-history activities will be a focal point of “Founding Day” at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park, a free community event on April 21 celebrating Santa Barbara’s 231st birthday.  (Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation photo)

By Christa Clark Jones for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation |

Celebrate Santa Barbara’s 231st birthday “Founding Day” from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 21 at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park, 123 E. Canon Perdido St.

Step into the past and watch the Presidio come alive with Early California music and dance, pottery, blacksmithing, adobe brick making, archaeology and more.

This free birthday celebration for the community will begin at noon with the Chumash Intertribal Singers, a re-enactment of the founding of the Santa Barbara Presidio in 1782, presented by Los Soldados de Cuera (soldiers of the Royal Presidio), a special acknowledgement of the California Conservation Corps, followed by the presentation of Saint Barbara 2013 by Reina del Mar Parlor No. 126 of the Native Daughters of the Golden West. Observe an Early California dance performance by Las Fiesteras, led by Diana Replogle-Purinton.

Following the ceremony, enjoy on-site educational activities throughout the Presidio that focus on the history and culture of early California. Converse with costumed demonstrators and experience life in Santa Barbara during the late 1700s.

Join potter Armando de la Rocha as he shares the art of pottery making and hear Chumash tales from Alan Salazar. Learn about native and introduced plants and discover how food was prepared in Early California.

Following living history activities, enjoy a traditional Latin Mass in the Presidio Chapel at 3 p.m. The service will commemorate the original founding Mass at the Presidio Chapel in 1782. The Mass will feature a performance by the Quire of Voyces.

Throughout 2013, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation is celebrating 50 years of work in the Santa Barbara community.

Founded in 1963 by Dr. Pearl Chase and other community leaders, SBTHP works to preserve, restore, reconstruct and interpret historic sites in Santa Barbara County. The vision of the organization’s founders was to restore Santa Barbara’s Spanish Presidio, reclaim Santa Barbara’s birthplace and preserve Santa Barbara County history for future generations. With the help of continuing education activities and exhibits including Founding Day, SBTHP strives to encourage community involvement and foster an appreciation for Santa Barbara’s distinct history.

The Santa Barbara community is invited to be a part of the 50th anniversary celebration. SBTHP’s Memories Project requests photographs, stories and drawings from the community to help interpret and document the stories held within the Presidio neighborhood. All of the material SBTHP gathers will be archived at the Presidio Research Center and shared with the public on SBTHP’s new Collections Online website. The Memories Project is on display at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara SHP throughout 2013. Click here for more information.

Santa Barbara’s Founding Day is funded in part by the Community Events & Festivals Program using funds provided by the City of Santa Barbara in partnership with the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission.

— Christa Clark Jones represents the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.

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